Easter morning sunrise. All that beautiful snow … caused our flight to Mexico to be canceled last Wednesday. So, what better way to celebrate than to head out to church early (7:30 AM service!) and then make a fabulous champagne brunch?
I wanted to start with something “fancy” so I made a lobster, mango, avocado salad with citrus vinaigrette. No recipe, just throw things together and serve on arugula. Such an indulgent brunch called for something a little healthy — steamed asparagus drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkled with lemon zest and sea salt. No recipe, just wing it. Ina Garten’s recipes are fool-proof — her spinach and cheddar soufflé was diva-licious. Follow her recipe to the letter and it’s a snap to make Ina’s Soufflé.
Ina’s spinach and cheddar cheese soufflé
Mimi’s lobster salad
Don’t forget the champagne … Deutz Brut Classic — one of my favorites!
The blizzard rolls into NYC…
…leaving streets empty.
This storm was so big, it had a name: Jonas. With nearly record-breaking snowfall what’s an apartment bound New Yorker to do? Cook and eat of course!!!! We love sitting around and sharing a cheese and meat plate before dinner. This soup is real comfort food and perfect for the first night of a blizzard. Get the recipe here. Comfort Soup
Get started with a cheese and meat board…
…finish with a hearty soup.
Day 2 brought plenty of sun…
…piles of snow…
…a trek to Central Park…
Dinner that night was my grandmother’s Irish stew. A real stick to your ribs meal.
…now THAT’s comfort food… stew with dumplings.
If you simply follow the steps in my handwritten recipe, you’ll create a great stew. The dumplings are right here: Dumplings!
The Divas dish on Sue’s dish. Sue: I’ll mention a couple of things about the stew and dumplings. You can use chuck cut into 2 inch pieces for the stew. Be very patient browning it. If you crowd too much in the pot at once the meat steams rather than browns. Use 2 tbsp of butter to brown the meat. Add more butter if you need to — it’s just stew not some secret formula. When making the dumplings don’t over mix them. The batter will be very lumpy. When you drop them into the stew it thickens the broth. Mimi: It absolutely tickles me to go through Sue’s ancient recipes and discover these handwritten, well-worn pieces of paper. That’s how you know it’s good food … they’ve stood the test of time. I’m not a big root vegetable or leek fan so I’ll pass on the soup. But, that stew with dumplings …oh boy… get in my belly now! My first attempt at making dumplings was a real mess so, I definitely should give it another shot.
I think if I was willing to make them, my husband would eat huevos rancheros every day of his life. For a special new year treat, I whipped some up this morning. I adapted this recipe, which seemed fairly simple, from an article in the Wall Street Journal. Huevos Rancheros
Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish. I made the sauce a day ahead of time so the flavors would meld and I adjusted the recipe to include refried beans and chorizo sausage. Instead of garnishing with avocado, I used queso fresca … simply because this is the way he likes his huevos. There is an old wives’ tale that what you do on the first day of the year sets the tone for the rest of the year. As far as this breakfast, I’m sure my husband hopes this is the case! Sue. I make a hearty breakfast for my husband every morning … this might be a little too much for a weekday. But, after a celebration with much wine, food and song, a breakfast like this might be just what the doctor ordered!
One holiday party and two holiday dinners later … did I remember to take a single picture? Nope! So no holiday postings for me. I guess I took a page from Sue’s book and decided to have a good time instead!!!
Saturday after Christmas, I’m craving something a little elegant (but easy). Where do I turn? To the French of course who, clearly, epitomize easy elegance. Click on the link that follows for the Roasted Chicken Provençal recipe and enjoy your own stress free post holiday evening: Easy Elegant Dinner .
I served this with a baguette, a light salad of baby greens dressed with white balsamic vinaigrette and Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône.
Divas dish on Mimi’s dish. I made a few minor adjustments to this recipe. I used 1/2 cup of vermouth because 1/3 cup did not look like enough in the pan. During the second 1/2 hour of baking, I switched the oven to convection roast to brown the chicken. If you don’t have a convection oven, you may need to place the pan under the broiler to get a nice crisp golden brown skin. Sue: HA!!! I love that Mimi got so caught up in her celebrations that she forgot to take pictures … what a break through! I’m always cooking for a crowd so this recipe looks like it’s right up my alley. I’m definitely going to try it and maybe I’ll remember to take a picture to post with Mimi’s. I hope so!
I realized that I let the summer slip away without hosting a big blow out celebration. So, last-minute, I invited some of our favorite people over for bouillabaisse. Here’s a peek at our evening.
decorating the table…
…my favorite activity!
We always say: search your home for treasures to use in decorating. The flowers are in pails from used citronella candles. I cleaned them up and antiqued them with a little gold paint. The flowers? Wegmans! Can you beat $20 for 2 dozen long stems?
I love anticipating …
… the guests arrival…
…and admiring my handiwork!
The lights evoke childhood memories of catching fire flies in mason jars at dusk.
Champagne Jean-Noël Haton Brut Blanc de Balnc Millésime 2005
The Grand Aioli
2014 Underwood Rosé
Caves des Grands Crus Blancs Pouilly-Fuissé 2014
Croutons with red pepper rouille
Clarendelle Blanc 2012
Le Sot de L’Ange La Boutanche Rosé
Cheese Plate: Coulommiers, Comté and Stilton
Peller Estates Ice Wine Riesling 2013
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Here are the recipes for gougères and easy aioli. I relied on a recipe from Tyler Florence as a start for my bouillabaisse. Here it is: bouillabaisse. Believe me I didn’t follow his recipe step by step — too complicated. The chocolate pots de creme recipe is Martha Stewart’s — you will never go wrong with her! Here is her recipe: pots de creme.
gougères and champagne — perfect together
The grand aioli…
…presented to the table.
Cod, mussels, shrimp, clams, broth … dival-licious
Pots de creme — a chocolate explosion.
The Divas “Dish” on Mimi’s Dishes. Don’t be intimidated by gougères. Once you master the dough it’s a snap! I’ve always wanted to do an authentic “grand aioli” which is an informal meal that includes poached fish. I thought a version of it would be fun … sitting around the table with wine before the main event. I don’t make my fish stock for bouillibaisse, I use seafood stock — just as good, a lot less work. I use triple the amount of vegetables that the recipe calls for and I have a heavy hand with fresh fennel, fennel seeds and Pernod. I like a very strong expression of the vegetables and aromatics in the broth. I purée half of the vegetables and stir them into the strained broth. Experiment! Have fun! It’s just food, not brain surgery … years later I’m still tweaking it. The red pepper rouille was easy and delicious with the meal. No picture of the cheese plate — sorry. Coulommiers is French brie — creamy, nutty, wonderful with wine. Comté is a nice mild French hard cheese and Stilton isn’t French but my husband loves it, so I serve it. First attempt at pots de creme — they tasted better than that picture looks (thank goodness!)
Sue. I was so sorry to miss Mimi’s party — it’s been a busy busy summer with family and friends of the family visiting almost every weekend!! Anyway, I love Mimi’s bouillabaisse and have had it many times. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted. Good thing she makes it — too many complicated steps for me to tackle. I don’t have the patience. And boy those gougéres look good — with champagne! My husband says if he could drink nothing but champagne, he would.
This is totally a guys’ golfing weekend … 18 holes Friday, 27 holes Saturday and 18 holes Sunday. They actually played fewer holes and took it easy this summer because there was a tournament going on. Their favorite hole is a par 5 on the blue course. Here it is.
What’s a mother to do? Serve the drinks and cook the food.
Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil Get the Recipe Here!
Tomato and Onion Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette Get the Recipe Here — sort of!
Raspberry – Ricotta Cake Get the Recipe Here!
Divas Dish on Sue’s Dishes No surprise, I didn’t stick precisely to these recipes. Rather than using pasta water, I threw in 1/2 stick of butter and just a little pasta water. I mixed summer squash and green squash to add a little color and did not make my ricotta. I also just tossed the pasta with fresh basil rather than making basil garlic paste. For the salad, I made citrus vinaigrette — who has time to roast lemons?!? I thought the picture in the magazine of the salad was irresistible and had to make some variation of it. For the ricotta cake I used fresh raspberries — the cake is dense — frozen berries would have added moisture. So, I served a mixed berry compote to moisten the cake. Mimi: I really wanted to make this pasta and googled it. I had no idea it called for homemade ricotta cheese. Check out my posting to see the results — diva-licious!
Country Style Drumsticks
Baby Greens with Feta Cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
yellow, red and orange bell peppers cut in strips
1 onion cut in strips
4 oz fresh mushrooms
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 dry white wine
- Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan at medium high and brown drumsticks
- Remove drumsticks from pan, add vegetables and sauté until crisp tender
- Return drumsticks to pan and season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper
- Add chicken broth and white wine, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes until chicken is tender
Divas Dish on Sue’s Dish. I used a lot more broth and wine than the recipe calls for — maybe double it. We like to sop up the juice with fresh bread. I also served mashed potatoes to make this a meal that sticks to your ribs … after 27 holes of golf that’s a necessity! Mimi: This kind of reminds me of coq au vin. I’d try it but peppers aren’t my cup of tea.
When you’re invited to dinner at Karen and Harold’s you can count on having a great time – their recent party went well into the early morning hours, as always! Really, truly no one wants to leave. And Harold is so generous if you admire the wine, he insists you take a bottle home with you. The evening always has a theme and without fail is beautiful. Karen is a design expert and her home and entertaining style reflect her wonderful talent. Here’s a peek at a recent party we attended.
…the “cocktail lounge” …
…with exquisite flowers.
We were so enthralled … the setting … the guests … the wine … the dog, I only remembered to take one picture of the food.
Karen’s killer gazpacho.
But anyway here’s what we ate.
Our lobster wasn’t smiling …
corn on the cob slathered with butter!
Get it? Angel food…
Cartoons courtesy of Cliparts.co (click below)
Corn on the cob cartoon